Purim is coming up and it's time to make Shalach Manot. Shalach Manot are supposed to be ready to eat food though a lot of people seem to be confused about the meaning of the word "food". When making Shalach Manos, ask yourself, is the "food" you're planning on giving, food? Is this something that you regularly eat during the week or on Shabbat? Nuts, chocolate, grape juice, wine, hamantaschen I can live with, but all the candy, most of which is chemical garbage is where I draw the line. Most of the Shalach Manot contain tons of this bad for you, inedible garbage that will get thrown out before Pesach anyway. Stop wasting your money on this garbage because that's exactly where it's gonna end up. Another pet peeve are the baskets. You spend a lot of money on them every year and every year, in a month they end up in the garbage. I, for one, don't care if I get a sandwich in a plastic sandwich bag or in a $5 wicker or metal basket. You're not giving people birthday presents, you're giving people food. Do you like getting fifteen baskets that take up half your house or would you prefer something that can fit on your table?
A couple of years ago, I decided that I will not follow the herd and even if I stand alone, I will give food, not garbage. Over the years, together with grape juice, beer and vodka I have given out baked potatoes, onigiri, salted fish and sandwiches. Last year, one of my friends gave out, in my opinion, one of the best shalach manot, an apple and a banana. It's cheap, everyone likes them and I was very happy to have something to eat while waiting for the food to be brought out at the shul's party. Another friend gave out very nicely made sushi platters, though I wouldn't recommend this for someone who's short on time and has a big list of friends.
Here are some suggestions for a nice, healthy shalach manot: sandwiches, fruits, vegetables, home baked pastries, chicken legs, hot dogs, salads, etc. Want to be really cool? Get three or more pizza pies, a couple of cases of coke and bring them to shul for shacharit. What am I giving out this year? Probably sandwiches again, together with some hard to find Japanese beer, imported Chinese White tea and maybe hamantaschen.